Three book covers in the "Undercover Lovers" series, featuring portraits of women above a night time cityscape.
Interesting Finds, Reviews

Fresh find: Secrets and Spies (Undercover Lovers #1) by Ellie Barker

When Nikolas Jinsen, police mole, meets an unusual woman named Sky, he thinks he’s just in for a night of pleasure. But he’s soon pulled into a world of mafia dealings, stolen documents, hacked computers and kidnappings – not to mention a woman with a taste for exhibition, a Queen who demands payment in pleasure, and Sky herself; unusual, intoxicating, and wanting more than Nikolas may be willing to give.

Secrets and Spies by Ellie Barker is a pacey, 75-page novella that delivers the level of intrigue, twists and turns that I’d normally expect to see in a longer piece of work. The more I read, the easier it got to picture this book as a TV miniseries starring, say, an older Dave Franco and a younger Laverne Cox.

It doesn’t surprise me to learn that Ellie Barker is a flash fiction writer, as it really shows in the style here. No wasted words. If you struggle reading infodumpy novels, you’ll find this a refreshing change. I enjoyed the world the author created, though felt the story itself may have been hampered by the medium. All the facts and events were there in front of me, but crammed in such concentration that I had to work to appreciate it.

I could have done with just a touch more lingering and deceleration in parts to let elements of the story sink in and percolate. I definitely got a sense of richer ideas worth exploring, waiting just beneath the surface of the terse and punchy narrative, but perhaps they surface a little more in the subsequent instalments. Still, as the first piece in a multi-part novella series, it sets a great tone for the larger story.

On the character front, I found Nikolas and Sky interesting, but difficult to relate to. At least, at first. They’re smooth—maybe too smooth and ‘perfect’, in a way. It wasn’t until Chapter 5 (two-thirds in) that I got a real glimpse of their vulnerabilities and chemistry. From that point on, the story took a real turn for me, and I felt compelled to know more about them.

There’s heaps of steam in this story, and from a technical perspective, the hot parts were consistently hot. It was hard to contain my pervy smirk as I read this over an afternoon coffee at a local bar 😗 If you’re keen on stroke stories, the first few chapters have you covered, but this wasn’t doing it for me. However, once I got a sense of the characters’ vulnerabilities and insecurities, the steamy scenes became meaningful and interesting to me.

This book reinforces why I don’t like star-rating systems, as it really pushed the boundaries of my standard rubric. I’ve foregone stars today because it would be misleading—there was a lot of “I like this, but…” as well as “I don’t like this, and yet…” throughout my reading journey.

This novella didn’t completely resonate with me, but I found qualities in here that have me curious about Ellie Barker’s other work.

So perhaps what’s most telling is that the next two Undercover Lovers books, In Bed with the Enemy and For Queen and Country, have made it into my TBR.

Read if you like sex, plot, sex, spicy LGBT action, fun and more sex 🔥
Avoid if you prefer more moods and deeper diving 🌝

Guest post from Ellie Barker, author of the Undercover Lovers erotica series

Three book covers in the "Undercover Lovers" series, featuring portraits of women above a night time cityscape.

Why a trans* character?

Well, why not?

Sky is a trans woman who hasn’t yet medically transitioned, but is aiming to – everyone has their push or their pull, and for Sky it’s both: she wants to get the money to medically transition (the pull), and to feel herself in the skin she’s in (the push).

The push could have added some complications. Most people have some problem with their body – the amount of “I hate my thighs!” posts online and the ubiquity of diet programs/gym adverts/hair-loss supplements attests to that. But some people have the more severe body dysphoria – imagine feeling like you’re wearing the wrong clothes, constantly; a suit when everyone else is in swimsuits. But having said that, I didn’t want Sky to feel unhappy in her skin; it’s an erotic novella, after all, and I didn’t want to give them every scene in the dark! Sky’s a confident person and I wanted her to at least be comfortable enough in her skin to enjoy the pleasure her body can bring her.

And on that note, it’s also easy to write sex – I mean, body parts are just body parts, and stickin’ them in various holes is pretty much par for the course with humans. Nikolas is a pretty chilled-out guy, in addition to being bisexual, so he’s a good match for Sky – both in terms of body type and in terms of personality!

So while making Sky a trans woman was a choice, I didn’t want it to overshadow the novella: Sky is what she is, and she’s making her own choices for what she wants to do with her body. I didn’t feel that the reasoning behind that needed majorly exploring…not that it’s not an interesting character perspective, but I did worry it would turn an erotic novella into a psychological conversation. So while it’s something that’s in there, and is a character aspect, it’s not the focus of the series…

Which leaves more time for double-crossing, shenanigans and a lot of smokin’ hot sex!

 

xxx

Ellie

Excerpt from the Undercover Lovers Trilogy:

“So,” I said conversationally. “Gonna tell me what you did with the documents you stole?”

I’ll give her credit; she didn’t flinch. I was expecting her to try to run, but she just gave me a thoughtful look, tinged with a certain amount of amusement. This was a game, and she was playing. “You’ll have to be more specific, Nikolas.”

I liked the way she pronounced my name; she gave it the correct harshness of the k and some length on the a. “You were an electrician, and then just after you’d vanished, some documents were also found to have vanished.”

My fingers returned to her hair and wove into the bright strands. And before she could answer, before she could lie to me, I tightened my grip and dipped my head to her exposed neck.

“And don’t think,” I added, feeling my lips move against her skin, “of lying.”

“But if I lie,” Sky’s breathy voice said from somewhere by my ear, “you’d just have to get the truth out of me, wouldn’t you?”

“How would I do that?” I let my teeth enclose a bite of skin, with enough pressure to tell her that I could make a mark if I wanted to.

“You don’t know how to?”

My teeth did leave a mark, white on her dark skin, and she groaned. I felt one of her hands come around my back and the other trail up my leg, towards my now-stiffening cock.

“But the problem with this,” I said, and left another mark on her neck, “is that you like it.”

“If you’re nice to me—” Another groan as my teeth bit in again. “Maybe I’ll tell you the truth.”

I trailed my tongue down her neck, keeping my hand entwined in her hair. Her hands were now doing interesting things to my shoulders and back. “How nice would I have to be?” I asked when I’d finished with that patch of skin.

“Very.”

With one movement I pulled her across my lap, her chest against my bare thighs. One of my hands was still wound in her hair, and her buttocks were lying just in the path of my other hand.

I gave her a moment to anticipate what was about to happen, and then I brought my palm down sharply.

Sky groaned, and I felt her cock twitch against my leg. When her voice came, it had the delicious hitch of someone hovering between pleasure and pain. “That’s not nice.”

“No.” I punctuated the word with another slap. “It’s not.”

Blurb:

Ellie Barker’s Undercover Lovers trilogy: the complete set.

Secrets and Spies

When Nikolas Jinsen, police mole, meets an unusual woman named Sky, he thinks he’s just in for a night of pleasure. But he’s soon pulled into a world of mafia dealings, stolen documents, hacked computers and kidnappings – not to mention a woman with a taste for exhibition, a Queen who demands payment in pleasure, and Sky herself; unusual, intoxicating, and wanting more than Nikolas may be willing to give.

In Bed with the Enemy

Nikolas Jinsen, police mole and mafia odd-job man, is given an ultimatum; stop seeing his girlfriend, or lose his job. When a hasty attempt to keep both goes wrong, he does the only thing he can think of: he lies. But with his new roommate a member of the elite gang that Nikolas has been tasked to look into, and his assignations with his girlfriend constantly interrupted by calls on his services as a lover, Nikolas finds that work isn’t all fun and games.

For Queen and Country

Nikolas Jinsen, police mole and mafia odd-job man, is usually pretty easy-going – both at work and in the bedroom. But there’s one thing he doesn’t forgive, and when an opportunity for revenge comes up against the woman who insulted his girlfriend, Nikolas is in… even if the woman in question is the powerful mafia boss who is currently retaining Nikolas’ services as a lover. Revenge is best served hot – and steamy.

Undercover Lovers is a fun LGBT erotic crime comedy novella trilogy.

Amazon Buy links:

Secrets and Spies (Book 1): http://smarturl.it/SaSKindle

In Bed with the Enemy (Book 2): http://smarturl.it/IBWTEkindle

For Queen and Country (Book 3): http://smarturl.it/FQaCKindle

Undercover Lovers Trilogy Paperback: http://smarturl.it/ULPrint

Author bio:

Ellie mostly writes short’n’dirty flash fiction and short erotic fiction in any genre going. She prefers vampires over werewolves, and is always hot for a rainy night.

You can find out more about Ellie over at http://elliebarker.co.uk/, or follow her on Twitter as @EllieBa3

See more posts in Ellie Barker's blog tour

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